Ankara, Turkey – “Mavi vatan,” or “Blue Homeland,” is a national common phrase like “Misaki Milli” (National Pact or National Oath) in Turkish political life. “Misaki Milli”, which historically draws Turkey’s borders, is the set of six decisions made by the last term of the Ottoman Parliament that met on 28 January 1920 and published their decisions on 12 February 1920.
A group of parliamentarians called “Felahi Vatan” or “Salvation of the Homeland “was established by Mustafa Kemal’s friends to acknowledge the decisions taken at the Erzurum Congress and the Sivas Congress. Mustafa Kemal said “It is the nation’s iron fist that writes the Nation’s Oath which is the main principle of our independence to the annals of history.
These decisions worried the occupying Allies, resulting in the occupation of Istanbul by the British, French and Italian troops on 16 March 1920 and the establishment of a new Turkish nationalist parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, in Ankara. This also intensified the Turkish War of Independence against the Allies.
The six decisions of the “Misaki Millî” taken by the late Ottoman Parliament were later used as the basis for the claims of the Grand National Assembly in the Treaty of Kars and of the new Republic of Turkey in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. “Blue Homeland,” or “Mavi vatan,” is an extension of “Misaki Milli” (National Oath) in Turkish legal continental shelf (blue waters) in the Black sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean sea. “Blue Homeland” reflects Turkey’s anti-imperialist national maritime strategy and policy.
“Blue Homeland” is most often used as a shorthand expression for Turkey’s national maritime strategy and policy in the Black sea, Aegean sea and Mediterranean sea. Central to Turkey’s rights and interests is the presence of large deposits of natural gas in “Blue Homeland”. For Turkey, the lion’s share of these hydrocarbon deposits lies within what Turkey interprets is its exclusive economic zone in “Blue Homeland”. Turkey openly defends its “Blue Homeland” sovereignty, legal rights and interests as well as key statutes of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Turkey has remained steadfast in spite of threats of sanctions and increased diplomatic pressure.
The coining of the term “Blue Homeland” ultimately represents more than an act of geopolitical strategy and policy. To a large extent, it signals a somewhat dramatic shift in doctrine within Turkish military and political strategy. The emergence of Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” strategy and policy has generally been associated with the “Misaki Milli” principles. The concept of the “Blue Homeland” has become a contemporary watchword in Turkish military and political strategy. The “Blue Homeland” doctrine suggest the ascendency of a more defiant, aggressive and antagonistic strain of thought within Turkish political and security circles.
Also, the Blue homeland is mainly a national stance against the aggressive and destructive behaviors of the “Atlantic front”; US, EU, France, Greece and Southern Cyprus. Turkey’s “Blue Homeland” strategy suggests greater amounts of tension with the adversaries in its national continental shelf or exclusive economic zone.
The “Blue Homeland” doctrinaire politics is not a particularly recent innovation within Turkish political life. Turkey’s strategic strength as a state lies at the cultural and historical crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia. This strategic geography allowed Turkey unique advantages in forging a new political, economic, and social order within its realm of geopolitical influence. In advancing this broad geostrategic vision for Turkey’s future, the “Blue Homeland” strategy is at the forefront of promoting an overarching agenda of strategic cooperation, increased trade, and solidarity among the country’s neighbors in the region.
Turkey’s unique role suggests an eminent geostrategic leadership and a pivotal state status within Europe, Asia and Africa. Turkey, historically suggests an appreciation of its maritime traditions and achievements. Defending Turkey’s territorial waters, its “Blue Homeland,” is every bit as important as protecting Turkish soil, the “Mother Land”.
A critical aim of the “Atlantic front” is simply to punish Turkey for getting closer to Russia and China in Eurasia. Turkey regularly accuses the US of seeking to undermine Turkish legal rights and interests with an intention that is undergirded by the desire to prevent Turkey’s ascension as a global power. Turkey’s political destiny lies broadly with the states of Eurasia, building deeper ties with Russia and China would not only help further Turkish rights and interests but would also serve as a bulwark against the “imperialist powers” of the “Atlantic front.”
The US intends to undermine Turkey’s sovereignty in coalition with other regional powers France, EU, Israel, Egypt, and Greece. Central to this emerging alliance is Greece, a pawn state with a long history of allying itself with Western imperial powers. Turkey does not want any military or political tension in Eastern Mediterranean. For this reason, Turkey should take a firm line toward Greece and its counterclaims in the Aegean and Mediterranean. Waters bordering Greece’s islands do not allow Greece the right to tap the region’s natural gas deposits. In the absence of military strength, Greece instead relies upon the United States, France and Europe to act on its behalf. Greece can live inside the dream world “Megalo Idea” of its past and build endless fantasies. But it should not impose these things upon Turkey’s sovereignty and interests in the Aegean, Mediterranean, and Black Sea. They should know their place as open adversaries of Turkey.
There is significant evidence that the blue homeland strategy suggests that Turkey’s views have had a profound impact. The most obvious sign of influence is the pervasive use of the phrase “Mavi Vatan,” or “Blue Homeland.” Arguably the most striking demonstration of this worldview can be seen in Turkey’s evolving policy toward Libya.
On 27 November 2019, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives of Libya’s UN-recognized government in Tripoli. The agreement, which charted a mutually expansive maritime border between the two states, has been heralded across Turkey’s political spectrum as a triumph in the name of the country’s Blue Homeland. Turkey went to Libya at the invitation of the UN-recognized Libyan Government of National Accord “to help them to push back aggressive behavior” by warlord Khalifa Haftar and his forces.
Greece has claimed a “maximalist” position in the Eastern Mediterranean that lacks any legal basis and flies in the face of reason. The Greek side’s “maximalist” position claims that the island of Kastellorizo (Meis in Turkish) – only 2 kilometers from the Turkish shore, but about 580 km away from the Greek mainland – “should have a 40,000 square km continental shelf area, which is almost like half of Turkey’s Gulf of Antalya. Greece’s maximalist position is “against logic, against geography, against international agreements. ” Turkey will never accept language of threats or sanctions. Turkey is only there to protect its rights and interest in “Blue Homeland”. Turkey would like to see an equitable and fair sharing of all the natural resources in “Blue Homeland”. Turkey openly challenges Greece’s possession and occupation of islands in the Aegean. Turkey has repeatedly voiced apprehension at what it characterizes as a broad range of aggressive and provocative Greek behavior in the Aegean and Mediterranean. The US’ increasingly warm relations with Greece has been equally greeted with revulsion in Turkey.
Turkey says Greece is causing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean by making “maximalist claims” over its sovereignty, as the country’s seismic research in Blue Homeland. Greece claims 40,000 km2 of maritime jurisdiction area due to this tiny island Kastellorizo (Meis) and attempts to stop seismic research and drills and block Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. This maximalist claim is not compatible with international law. It is against the principle of equity. Yet Greece asks the EU, France, and US to support this claim and put pressure on Turkey to cease its legitimate offshore activities. This is not acceptable and reasonable. It is Greece, not Turkey who creates tensions in the area due to such maximalist claims.
Consequently, Turkey’s present commitment to its “Blue Homeland” doctrinaire policies appears contingent upon two critical factors. Firstly, Turkey’s maritime posturing has captured the vision of a broad swath of the Turkish political establishment. Thus, calls for a determined defense of the country’s expansive “Mavi Vatan” echoes the combative, independent spirit of Turkey’s contemporary foreign policy. The second, and most important, factor is Turkey’s open public approval of this overall geopolitical strategic direction. Turkey, thus far, has made good use of the “Blue Homeland”’s larger significance in contemporary national foreign policy.